State governors will worsen minimum wage in Nigeria.

Filed under: National Issues |

As if the punishment of putting up a national wage that’s at a minimum of NGN18,000 isn’t good enough, the federal government are now willing to put the decision in the hands of state governors themselves. If you recall, at the introduction of the NGN18,000 minimum wage, 2/3 of the state governors whom the government now want to hand over the decision key to, were not happy as most of them claim not to have enough budget to accommodate such wage. Even till this very moment, not all the state governors pay up to NGN18,000 to workers.

To state that Nigeria is a wealthy nation is no longer news even to the international communities, as they all know this. It isn’t also news that more than 75% of Nigerians are poor even in the midst of wealth. Nigeria is one country where the most needed things are highly expensive while the least “wanted”, not even “needed”, are very cheap. Food commodities for example are a no-go-area for most people, especially the poor and semi-poor in the society. Convenient transportation is a rich man’s term in a country where every now and then the government announces the release of huge amount of money in the transportation sector. How about accommodation? The cheapest one room apartment you can get in the FCT for instance, climbs up to a tune of NGN350,000/per and you must pay for two years. Do we talk of light bills, water bills etc.? Little wonder why over two (2) million people reside in Mpape, with over twelve (12) people sharing one room with no light, water nor good road network. You may ask if the Federal Capital is for everyone, is other state in the country any better? What is obtainable in the FCT is no different from other state in big ways. House rent, light and water bills, food commodities etc are as expensive as gold products.

This whole thing may look abstract to some of you, let me break it down so you can better understand from what angle I am coming from. For the purpose of localizing, I am going to use the Federal Capital, and then transportation to work my analysis. In a minimum salary of NGN18,000, you get to spend on daily basis NGN400 for transport to and from your work place. Do this for a complete 22 days, the normal working days in a month (even though some establishments work on Saturdays and Sundays), at the end of 22 days, you have sufficiently spent NGN8,800 leaving you with NGN9,200. Remember, no matter how prudent you want to be, you cannot go to work without buying something to eat throughout the entire day. What this means is that, at least, you must buy snacks if you don’t want to spend your money on real food that will cost you real money. And how much do snacks cost? The likes of “meat pie” goes for NGN150 in some places while others keep theirs at NGN200 but for the sake of maintaining prudence, we keep our analysis at the price of NGN150 per snack of meat pie and we assume you only go for one. Support your snack with a single bottle of Coke at the cost of same NGN150, which makes your daily spending on food amount to NGN300.  Run this sum by 22 days and you get a total of NGN6,600. Adding it to your daily transport total (NGN8,800 + NGN6,600) you get NGN15,400 leaving you with a balance of NGN2,600. Now ladies and gentlemen, considering what we already mentioned above, what on earth can NGN2,600 do for a single man or woman let alone, a family?

Right now the government is saying, we no longer want to be the one to determine how much you pay your workers in your state, you be the judge of that. What this means to those governors who felt that NGN18,000 as a minimum wage is in fact too much of a money to be paid out to workers, is that some of them might wish to bring it down to NGN8,000 or NGN10,000 at best. Know it that in some quarters, before the month comes to an end, some families already owe what surpasses their monthly salary. And with what the government is saying, death rate will increase in the country soon enough if this is not stopped even before it starts.

I don’t think there’s any one who still ask the government for job today in Nigeria, or are you? What I hear in various corner of the country, all over the media, both electronic and otherwise is for the government to stabilize the environment and make it fertile for the people to thrive in their entrepreneurial struggle toward financial freedom. It will not only be a mistake but a disaster for the government to put in the hands of state governors, the wage decision, that’s my opinion.